Idiots at Discovery Channel?

Okay, so I’m watching DC tonight, a show called “Ancient Arsenal” about Byzantine fire ships.

And the narrator pronounces it Buy-zan-teen! I was heading for the Pit to excoriate the idiots at Discovery (I remember a narrator on one show consistently referring to the British Admiralty as the Admirality). But then I thought, well, maybe they’re right and I’m wrong. (Yeah, right!)

So I’m asking for a factual answer in GQ: have I been misinformed all my life about the correct pronunciation of this word? Has it changed recently?

Or has it always been Biz-an-teen, and did some idiot narrator at DC get it wrong (again)? lists it as pronounce Biz-an-teen, if I’m reading that gibberish which is a pronounciation key correctly… I wouldn’t get in too much of a tizzy over it though. You say to-may-to, I say to-mah-to sort of thing.

Those damn Brits also say ah-loo-minn-ee-um instead of a-lume-in-um. Most people, until recently, pronounced Quatar as ka-tar instead of it’s more realistic pronunciation which is somewhere between cutter and gutter. Save your rage for the next time someone says “I could care less.”, that one really chaps my hide for some reason.

Well, I could care less.

And I really mean it. Sure I don’t care a lot, but I could care a little less.

Don’t worry - you’re watching liguistic divergence happening in front of your eyes - like evolution. I think it’s cool. If this wasn’t going on, we’d all be still speaking proto-whatever…

OED lists it as Bizanteen, so there’s no real excuse even for a Brit.

Looks like the narrator was correct. “Alumin-ee-um” is also correct.




This is a word I pronounce as sir-tan-ity. Not sure whether that’s the

correct pronunciation, but it is in wide use. The dictionary mentions

[OF. certainet['e].] I’m not sure what the “OF.” signifies. Could

someone clarify ?




OF, derivation, Old French, certainete --and stick an accent mark on that last e. [/WAG]

xash - Not quite. There are two pronunciations given for “Byzantine” and neither reflect the narrator’s pronunciation. The one you gave is “BIZ-en-tin.” The more common one is “BIZ-en-teen.” The narrator’s “BUYZ-en-teen” is neither of these.

Re:“Certainty.” Interesting. I’ve never heard it pronounced as “Certainity” by either English or American speakers. So, I’m wondering if this is a regional phenomenon as from my experience this pronunciation is not in common usage. But I may very well be wrong, so I’m curious if any other Dopers are familiar with this pronunciation.

And, yep, as MaryEFooWAGged, OF is “Old French,” from where the word was derived.

I’ll quote again:

The “By” in the pronunciation key of byzantine clearly reflects the narrators pronunciation. “By” is pronounced only one way in english. The same as “Buy”. The other pronunciations include “Byz” which could be construed as being the same as “Biz”, but “By” is unambiguos.

Regarding “certainty” pronounced as sir-tan-ity… I’d be interested to learn from British dopers what their usage of the word is.

I have grown up learning British English (English is the official language of this country, along with Hindi). However, I have constantly come across, and adapted to, American English. Colour vs. color, “Shedule” vs. “Skedule”, etc.

Thanks for clearing up the “OF” bit.

In my new Webster’s New Twentieth Century unabridged, 2nd Ed., the pronunciation is shown on the main entry, along with the syllable breaks. It lists By zan’ tine and the alternate pronunciation biz’ an ten (with a line over the e to indicate a long e sound).

BUT, the “y” in “By” in the main spelling does not have a long sign, and the pronunciation guide at the bottom of the page gives “myth” as the example of an unmarked “y”. With the long vowel sign, the “y” is pronounced like a long “i”.

So xash, although you’re right that in English pronunciation, “by” by itself in not ambiguous, you may want to check to see if your source is actually using that fact as a guide.

BTW, the narrator of the show was not British.

I had a professor-a HISTORY professor, mind you, who said “Buy-Zan-TYNE.”

Of all people, you’d think she’d know better!

Guinastasia: Are you commenting on his pronunciation of the last syllable as well? Because the dictionary I cited gives the long “i” in “tine” (rhymes with “line”) as its first choice.

Whoops! Should have said “her” instead of “his.”

I’d wager that with the build-up and action in Iraq, coupled with the fact that most of the networks were broadcasting from either Quatar or Kuwait, plus (I believe) Al-Jazeera being based in Quatar, lots of people learned the real pronunciation real quick.

I still remember the day they decided to change the pronunciation of the word Neandertal without telling me. :slight_smile:


Or was it the spelling they changed (Neanderthal to Neandertal)?

Whatever, it sure confused me.

I’ve always pronounced it “BYE-ZEN-TINE”

Apparently I’ve been wrong all this time.

It was always supposed to be pronounced “neandertal”; “neanderthal” is was just a variant spelling. “Thal” in older writing=“Tal” in contemporary standard German, and means Valley.

“Neanderthal” means “Neander Valley”, as “thal” is German for “Valley”. However, German does not have the “theta” sound. Instead, the “h” indicated aspiration at one time in the past. Now it’s just a relic.

However, most English speakers being utterly ignorant goobers, they had no idea how to do something as simple as pronounce a German word. Thus, some folks have started spelling it “neandertal” to match the correct pronunciation in their minds.